Scott White admitted to the murder in court earlier in the month, but is now appealing against the conviction
The man found guilty of the cold-case murder of US mathematician Scott Johnson has lodged an appeal, just a few days after shocking his lawyers by admitting guilt.
Attorneys for Scott White, 50, filed an appeal last week to the New South Wales court of appeal for criminal cases to contest his sentence, Guardian Australia has confirmed.
The appeal is a significant advancement in the case of a death which had been initially dismissed as suicide, by NSW police. It was investigated by three coronial coroners and was later probed by detectives as a homosexual hate crime and a $2 million incentive for any information.
Johnson 27-year-old Johnson was discovered dead at the bottom of a cliff in the Manly’s North Head in 1988. Manly was a favorite place to meet for gay males.
The year was 2017. the coroner Michael Barnes discovered that Johnson was thrown off the rock “as a result of actual or threatened violence” by those who assaulted him due to his sexual orientation.
Barnes has criticized the police’s initial investigation for being inadequate, and determined that it was likely that at least one person was able to ambush Johnson.
Police began a new investigation and revealed the reward in the year 2018. White was detained in Mayof 2020.
In a supreme court trial on the 10th of January White admitted in a court hearing that he was responsible for the murder of Johnson.
White’s public-funded lawyers immediately appealed his plea bargain and argued that the plea should be dismissed due to the cognitive limitations of White, his prior insisting that he was innocent the inability to inform lawyers that he intended to change the plea, and his excessive agitation morning of hearing.
The credibility in the agreement was damaged to the extent that a commitment by White in the plea would amount to an injustice His lawyers claimed.
In their arguments his lawyers provided notes of a discussion they had in their cells with White shortly after he entered the plea.
“I’m really sorry to all of you, I appreciate all your work, but I can’t handle it,” White stated in his notes of the meeting , as well as the memories of his lawyer for legal aid, Louise Sutherland.
“If I go out, she’ll be back and again, I’m not able to do it. I cannot, and I’m sorry. I’m better off staying here. I’m safe in here. There’s way too much stress.”
The mention of “she” was clarified to refer to his ex-wife, who was expected to testify against White.
“You told us before court you were going to say not guilty and you have told us consistently that you didn’t do it,” Belinda Rigg SC, White’s senior counsel as well as the NSW senior public defender said.
“I didn’t. I didn’t commit it But I’m saying I did it. You know what I’m saying. I’m saying this. Ten years. I’ll take this,” White said.
Rigg as well as White continued to discuss the case in the files note. Rigg saying to White that he could not be given the minimum sentence of 10 years. He then reaffirmed that guilty pleas meant that the judge had been “telling the whole world” that he was the one who murdered Johnson.